Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Dinosaur Husbandry #2: The Tidal Wave of Dinosaur Hoarders

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," all you enlightened folks out there!

Wow! It's been a hectic 24 hours! After I "outed" the super-secret dinosaur-breeding society, Dinosaur Underground Mobilization Brotherhood (DUMB), I have heard from people all over the world! I had no idea how widespread is the practice of raising dinosaurs secretly!

Watch out, you evil, materialistic, devil-worshipping, science-faking Darwinists. Your time is through. Thanks to the real scientists behind the Creation Museum (in Ohio, not Kentucky), all of us who have raised and loved dinosaurs can reveal our charges to the wider world!

Calls and emails came in from every continent except Antarctica, and every part of the U.S.A., including a lady in Manhattan who houses a 29-foot-long Hadrosaurus in her penthouse! It was especially moving to hear of an Inuit family that has 16 Wooly Mammoths and a sabre-toothed tiger that's a vegetarian.

Close down those phony La Brea Tar Pits! Ice Age, indeed. Spare me.

Okay, so I promised to tell you about some of my favorite pet dinosaurs. At the very top of the list is my Corythosaurus frontalis. I call her "Peepie Poo." She tops out at 35 feet long and 4 tons, which doesn't make her one of the biggest dinos but is still impressive. She's about the size of an Asian elephant, but shaped like ... well ... a dinosaur. She's got a bright yellow back and a "helmet" on her head that sticks up like a rooster's crest.

I have no pictures of her ... yet. At the moment I can't reveal her location, for fear that the wicked, etc. etc. Darwinists will track her down and petrify her. That would kill me, it really would.

Peepie Poo is a vegetarian. Remember, creation science, or you could say intelligent design, or you could say sudden emergence, tells us that all dinosaurs were vegetarians in the Garden of Eden.

No mention of how the poor plants in the G of E felt about that.

I've raised Peepie Poo from an egg, and this summer I was planning to herd her, under cover of deepest darkness, to a camp in the Shenandoah National Forest where they have four or five other Corythosaurus frontalises.

Ha ha! Thank you, Creation Museum! your revelation of real, true, and incontrovertible science has made my life (and lives everywhere but Antarctica) so very much simpler!

Here's what I'm going to do:

I'm going to load Peepie Poo on a flatbed truck, along with a couple of T. Rexes my cousin raised. I'm gonna drive that truck past Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Dartmouth, Brown, and the Smithsonian Institution (partial list). I can't tell you how I'll savor the moment when all those Darwinists who are bent on destroying the moral fabric of this country come face-to-face with Peepie Poo!

Maybe I'll post my itinerary so that you can be at the university nearest you when my precious pet dinosaur topples the forces of evil.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Dinosaur Husbandry #1

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," where today we come out of the closet and "out" one of the most secret of secret societies!

Yes, finally we can cavort in the open, herd up our special charges and parade them through the streets like circus elephants!

Oh, readers. You can't imagine what a burden has bee lifted from my shoulders, and from the shoulders of super-secretive breeders all through Appalachia. They might not like me spilling the beans, but now that David Ham's fabulous Creation Museum is open, we need no longer run and hide, sneak around at night and in the worst weather, and practice draconian secret handshakes and code words to save ourselves and our super duper classified charges.

Friends, gods, and countrymen, let me be the very first to claim membership in the Dinosaur Underground Mobilization Brotherhood. That's DUMB, for short.

You see, the Creation Museum is correct. There were dinosaurs in the Garden of Eden. And some of them survived Noah's Flood!

This topic is way too big for one post. Today I will only cover one aspect of it: how the dinos survived the flood, and how the evil, corrupting, materialistic, murdering, falsifying, misleading, and devil-worshipping Darwinists have conspired to exterminate the few remaining populations of dinosaur from the face of the Earth.

The Bible says that Noah's flood lasted 40 days and 40 nights. But that was only where Noah was. In Appalachia and the Rocky Mountains, for instance, the waters rose to the tip-top of the mountains but only stayed there for a day or two. The dinos wisely climbed trees and waited for the water to recede. Then they climbed down and had all of America to themselves for awhile until Noah's descendants used the ark to get to the Western Hemisphere.

At one time, every Native American burial site contained evidence that Indians ate dinosaurs and also, in some cases, kept them as pets. This evidence has been deliberately destroyed by the Darwinists described above.

Luckily, some parts of the Appalachian Mountains are so remote that remnant populations of dinosaurs survived. By the time the first intrepid mountaineers arrived in these regions, the dinosaurs had established small enclaves here and there. The mountaineers decided to nurture the dinosaurs as a good source of meat -- and protection from city slickers like Burt Reynolds.

Along came Darwin. The temporal existence of even a single T. Rex would reveal evolution for what it really is -- EVILution. Thinking quickly, the mountaineers formed DUMB to save the remaining dinos.

Thank goodness for Appalachians, because the situation was completely different in the Rocky Mountains. There, the evil, etc. etc. Darwinists arrived first. The evil, etc. etc. Darwinists murdered every Rocky Mountain dinosaur in cold blood, then chemically treated the bones to turn them into rock. The evil, etc. etc. Darwinists even went to the trouble to gouge out bone-shaped holes in rock strata to make it look like they were unearthing ... the word turns to ash in my mouth ... fossils.

In other parts of the world, the mountains were just too high and too cold to support dinosaur populations. Take your Alps, for example. Dinosaurs are cold-blooded. They couldn't deal with those glaciers. They also couldn't handle Yellowstone, for the opposite reason. Hot springs cook a dino.

Appalachia formed a perfect habitat because it is:
a) remote, and
b) temperate from the Mason-Dixon line on south.

So it has fallen upon the shoulders of the people of Southern Appalachia to hide, herd, and husband dinosaurs.

Whew. I'm glad this is out in the open. You have no idea how hard it's been to shelter T. Rexes since satellite imagery became so precise.

Tomorrow, or soon, I'll tell you all about some of my personal favorite dinosaurs! I've raised dozens. All of them very polite and well-behaved, very good with children and other pets. They really are wonderful animals. Everyone should have one, just like they show in the Creation Museum.

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Monday, May 28, 2007

Memorial Day Observed


Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," disgusted with Democrats since last election day! Want to know why we won the Revolutionary War? Same reason we're losing in Iraq. A lunatic at the helm, and no one paying attention to the will of the people.


As a card-carrying member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, it was my pleasure in the past to participate in Memorial Day observances. When the Iraq thing, whatever it is, got underway, I started boycotting Mem Days. Then I read in the newspaper that a neighboring borough, 99 percent African American, had a cemetery with over 100 Civil War soldiers buried in it.


This won't surprise you. During the Civil War, black soldiers were not buried in national cemeteries.


The borough, Lawnside by name, took any dead Civil War vet that no one claimed. They also have a few locals, including one whose family received the Congressional Medal of Honor in, I think, 2004. Timely, huh? But that's how I found out about the cemetery, because that made the newspapers and a couple of my local DARs went to the award ceremony.


For the past 3 years I've been putting flowers on the grave of the Medal of Honor winner in Lawnside. It's closer than Andersonville, GA. I've got a great-great-great uncle buried there.


Today I was tucking into breakfast when The Spare said, "Mom, aren't you going over to Lawnside?" I had totally forgotten. I gulped the oatmeal and bolted out the door. Got there just in time to join a small ceremony by the Lawnside VFW.


Their bugler could do Arlington, he was that good.


That's a tight-knit little group over there, but no one gives me the cold stare, especially when I explain why I'm there. But I was dressed kind of scruffy today, and those African American VFW Ladies Auxillary members completely put the D.A.R. to shame for couture.


So, recalling when wars were necessary, we at "The Gods Are Bored" remember our three direct and six indirect ancestors who joined the Grand Army of the Republic. I can be proud of them because there's nothing in my religion that says you can't be proud of your ancestors.


Beannachd leat.
Photo: Statue, Andersonville, Georgia

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Sunday, May 27, 2007

Always Share Free Advice


Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," sacred oaks and stupid jokes and lots to entertain you folks!


Maybe you'll remember this charmer from an earlier post. He's taken up residence in a nearby pond. Apparently he outgrew the bathtub where he'd been stored.




I solicited advice on how to handle this infestation of hungry reptile. The directions below, provided by Kayak Dave seem so simple and thorough that I thought I ought to share them.


Before you begin jotting them down, please be advised that Dave has a super duper spouse who understands him completely.


KAYAK DAVE'S NO-FAIL GATOR GRAB PROTOCOL

I’m so glad you asked.

First you lasso the SOB around the snout with a loop attached to a pole. The guy on the pole should be 1) strong 2) level headed.

You then get a big guy to jump on that suckers back. Strength isn’t so important for this, weight is the key. Then you simply whip out a roll of duct tape, available in hardware stores through-out the country and tape the SOB’S mouth shut. ( If only I could do this to the wife!)

Then one person grabs the head, one grabs the tail and you toss him into a vehicle of your choice. I prefer finding a BMW in a fancy part of town for this. When you arrive at the critters new home, say the White House, you simply lasso that suckers mouth again, remove the tape and run like hell.


I especially like the new destination for the pernicious pest.

Thanks, Dave!

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Topics on Today's Agenda

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" We're the round hole into which the square peg won't fit. Please hammer gently.

Topic #1: A Cautionary Tale

Some parents think it's safer to allow their kids to have drinking parties at home, because then the kids won't be driving around afterwards. This view is particularly popular in walker-friendly towns like the one I live in.

A boy from my daughter The Heir's class went to such a party. He got tanked and must have been belligerent, because he got thrown out. He went home, got the keys to the Lexus, drove into Philadelphia, got chased by the cops, and ... he wound up jumping off the Benjamin Franklin Bridge.

That was eight weeks ago. They found his remains last week.

Moral of mini-sermon: Letting the kids party at home is no guarantee they'll avoid being something really gross on a slab in the morgue.

Topic #2: Bad Funeral

Today The Heir's friend was given his Mass of Christian Burial at the local Roman Catholic Church. The Heir wanted to go. Even though she didn't hang around with this guy and his crowd, she had known him and gone to school with him since kindergarten. He lived right here in the hood.

The Heir didn't want to go alone. So I put on a decent shift, snatched a Queen Brighid the Bright pendant, and accompanied her. I debated taking my wand. I always take it to funerals. This time I didn't. The local priest already crosses the road when he sees me coming, so I thought today wasn't the day to get under his collar.

Heir and I arrived about 25 minutes early for the 11:00 Mass. The line of mourners stretched down the block. We had been standing there about 15 minutes when someone came out and said the sanctuary was stuffed past bursting, but the rest of us could go to the basement.

About 200 people crowded into the basement. There were only 75 chairs. At the front of the room was a big-screen t.v. It was hissing gray static. A couple of church ladies fussed over it. And fussed. And fussed. And fussed. Couldn't get a feed from the sanctuary directly overhead.

Heir looked around and identified six or seven of the deceased's closest buddies, milling in the basement. She said she saw people gain admittance to the sanctuary who hardly knew him at all.

Eleven o'clock came. The t.v. continued to spew gray static and a hissing noise. A church lady tried changing the channels. Then it became gray hiss .... black .... gray hiss .... black .... gray hiss .... black.

Heir said this was a metaphor. We were all staring at the t.v. figuring that if it came to life, maybe the deceased would come back to life too.

At about 11:25 a lady came downstairs. She hushed the audience and said she was a friend of the family, she wanted us to know how glad the family was that we had come to pray with them. She led us (not me) in a "Our Father" and a "Hail Mary." (I did say the "Hail Mary," it was from saying "Hail Mary" that I became a Pagan.)

One "Our Father," one "Hail Mary." The lady went back upstairs and the basement audience drifted outside in dribs and drabs.

Excuse me, but if this is the very best the Christian Church's biggest denomination can do for a dead teenager who was a parishioner in good standing, we at "The Gods Are Bored" are singularly unimpressed.

DUMB QUESTIONS THAT OCCURRED TO THE LONE DRUID AT THE CATHOLIC FUNERAL:

1. Wasn't there anyone upstairs who could disengage and lead the 200 folks downstairs in a meaningful meditation for a deceased young man?

2. Wasn't there anyone on the church staff who thought to themselves, "Gee, we'd better plan for an overflow audience and get that t.v. feed up and running?" I mean, Christ Triumphant R.C. Church is a pretty small little church. And this was a dead high school junior. In a close-knit, block party kinda neighborhood. The fricken school crossing guards were there!

3. Was there no possibility of an audio feed?


Someone should speak to Pope Rat. Because I've been to Mennonite funerals that were better run than this, and the Mennonites don't have fancy guys in lavish gowns and big palaces. They don't even have pianos.


I don't know what the other thwarted mourners did, but the R.C. church is only a skip and a jump from my church, which is a 165-year-old oak tree on public land. Off to the oak tree I go. That was my first choice all along, until Heir convinced me to go to Christ Triumphant.

I looked around at all the shade cast by that oak, and all the green grass between the oak and the parking lot for Christ Triumphant. And I thought, well damn. No one thought outside the box. They could have fit everyone out here, and it's a beautiful day to boot.

Moral of Mini-Sermon: Please don't ask me how Christianity became so popular after its founder took shore leave.

Topic #3: The Wrath of the Faeries

No way would I take my faeries (Puck, Princess, Aine) to a funeral in a Catholic Church. I should have known, though, that they would go ballistic about me going. When I got home, I couldn't find my reading glasses, my car keys, or the newest batch of foster kittens. Worse, my other daughter, The Spare, broke one of my Home Laughlin Riviera plates. It was an accident of course. Of course! The faeries made her do it. Know how I know that? Because the plate that got broken was not a green Riviera, or a yellow Riviera, or a blue Riviera -- all the easier-to-find colors. It was one of my two RARE TANGERINE-colored plates! I got that sucker on special order from an antique shop in Vermont! Red Riviera is so rare you can't even get it on Ebay.

Moral of mini-sermon: You may be brimming with good intentions, but faeries will still not like it when you go into a Roman Catholic church.

Topic #4: Proper send-off for Heir's Friend

Druid Blessing for J.T.:

I arise today
Through the strength of heaven.
Light of sun,
Radiance of moon,
Splendor of fire,
Speed of lightning,
Swiftness of wind,
Depth of sea,
Stability of earth,
Firmness of rock.
I arise today
Through the strength of heaven.

Beannachd leat,
THE MERLIN OF BERKELEY SPRINGS

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Thursday, May 24, 2007

On Job Interview Day

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored" on job interview day! Ouch. Anne in high heels for 10 hours. My blisters have blisters.

Well, I didn't hear from Matthew Chapman today, but I did get a comment from Bibi, my fairy friend in Berkeley Springs. If you're interested in more about Yahweh in the schools, see her comment posted below. And Bibi, the festival was once again a highlight of my year!

So, yo, it's job interview day, a whole new line of work for Annie. Not much call for goat judging in New Jersey, so I'm trying to throw myself into a different fire.

Don't nobody feel like cooking after a job interview, so I stopped at the Italian grocery store for spaghetti sauce and meatballs. Not bragging, but where I live has the best Italian food outside ... well ... Italy.

So there's this old dude in there ahead of me at the counter. He turns around out of the blue and asks, "Do you wanna hear a story?"

I say, "Yeah, of course!" I love stories.

He starts into this long thing about loving this girl in 8th grade and being unable to say anything about it because he was too shy. But he's telling it all in the third person, like he's writing it in his head as he goes. Of course the upshot is that, here he is 75, married 50 years, and he gets the phone number of this girl (presumably no longer in 8th grade herself). He calls her and talks to her on the phone for 90 minutes. Then he gets her some CDs of Frank Sinatra. But the next time he calls, he gets her daughter on the phone, and the daughter is religious and thinks he's a dirty old man, to be flirting when he's married. So, what do I think he should do?

(The real telling went on about 10 minutes and was very dramatic.)

I say the daughter shouldn't parent her parent unless the old girl is senile, which a 90 minute phone conversation doesn't indicate.

Then he expresses his opinion of religion, which is pretty much the same as mine, i.e., it's between you and your deities.

I'm listening to this dude, and I'm hearing his story. But I'm also hearing a fabulous South Philly accent of a previous generation. I love accents and dialects. It's weird, I know. I just like to listen to people talk when they talk from a region.

I tell him I'm a writer. Well. Then he really launches. He gives me his phone number, says he could tell me a whole novel's worth of stuff because he ran with the mob.

This was no dodge. You can tell an authentic mobster from a poser. This guy might have been exaggerating his proximity to Sinatra, but the rest of it was true dat. He recounted some stuff I remembered from when a friend of mine worked the mob beat for the Philadelphia Inquirer in the early 1980s. Stuff that didn't make the papers, if youknowwhuddimean.

Again I'm hearing him, but I'm also listening to a mob guy talk with a mob accent. He's dropping names like no one would dare if they weren't 75 and living in Lancaster. He also knows his stuff, like how to skim bookies by using arbitrage. (He didn't call it that, but that's what it was. It's complicated.)

To make a long sermon short, I got an earful of wonderful accent and probably slightly tall tales (but not all that damn tall). Stood there in the Italian market for 30 minutes. My peeps weren't missing me because they thought I was still interviewing.

I'm not gonna call him for more of the same. If you haven't noticed, the mob is kind of like one of those big royal families in Medieval times, fighting against other big royal families in Medieval times. Hard to keep the players straight. Name after name after name, level after level. Maybe more like the Masons than the Medieval royals.

If you have a great regional accent, call me. (That rules out Rush Limbaugh and Dr. Laura, thank goodness. Dr. Phil does make the cut.)

Beannachd leat,
THE MERLIN OF BERKELEY SPRINGS

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Darwin DNA


Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," where we proudly trace our DNA back to some itty bitty speck in the primoridal sea! If you believe the Earth is 6,000 years old, please explain to me why I can't grow diamonds in my backyard. I've got a pile of coal just sitting there doing nothing!


Mr. Johnson likes to go to book sales. He's always on the lookout for books that I'll find interesting. He hit the jackpot early last spring with a title called Trials of the Monkey: An Accidental Memoir, by Matthew Chapman.

Matthew Chapman is the great-great grandson of Charles Darwin. I can't speak for you, but I'd sure like to have that kind of DNA swirling around in my cells. Packed to the plimsol line with pure genius.

Like many a fine writer before him, Mr. Chapman did not attend college. He wasn't great shakes in high school, either. He even bypassed that fine bastion of Higher Letters, the Iowa Writers' Workshop. Damn good thing.

In Trials of the Monkey, Chapman (a dapper filmmaker from New York City) travels to Dayton, Tennessee to revisit the site of the Scopes Monkey Trial 80 years later. If you know anything about Scopes, you'll know that Chapman's good ol' ancestor got roughed up there, albeit posthumously. Chapman uses the trip to muse on his great-great-grandaddy's legacy and also on his own life, which has been interesting in and of itself.

Yes, it was a smart idea for a book, and smartly executed too. We at "The Gods Are Bored" place it on our "recommended reading" list.

This spring Chapman has released ... ready for this title? ... 40 Days and 40 Nights: DARWIN, Intelligent Design, GOD, OxyContin, AND OTHER Oddities ON TRIAL IN Pennsylvania. I know my capitalization stinks as a rule, but I didn't add all those caps. They're in the title.

In late 2005 a school board in Dover, PA (stuffed to the gills with fundamentalists) decreed that students would have to hear a statement about intelligent design before learning about evolution in biology class. The statement -- too long to be printed here -- suggests that evolution is a theory, not a fact, and that students interested in another theory, intelligent design, could consult an alternate available textbook, Of Pandas and People.

Needless to say, a cluster of parents jumped all over this, with the help of the ACLU and a couple of pro bono lawyers from Philly. The school board didn't back down. Thus, a trial that lasted 40 days.

The defense, led by the Thomas More Law Center in Michigan, dragged out some scholars who believe that certain forms of life (most notably some itty bitty bacterium with a fancy tail) could not possibly have had ancestors with less complicated machinery, because the whole thing had to be created at once.

That's one bacterium tail stacked up against an Everest of evidence supporting Darwin's un-fact.

Chapman used the good ol' family connections to secure a front-row seat for the trial and to interview personally many of the participants on both sides of the aisle. In the end he came to a conclusion about intelligent design that we here at "The Gods Are Bored" heartily endorse.

But here's the scary part. The attempt to insert God into public school has taken a sinister turn, y'all. Witness:

1925: Tennessee's Butler Act outlaws teaching any theory that contradicts the Bible. Specifically the Bible.

1978: Inspired fundies start a "creation science" movement consisting not of any provable, peer-reviewed science but rather a misrepresentation of the theory of natural selection and a general dissing of Darwin. Still it was hard to get around the "creation" part. Court cases arise, creationism crashes and burns.

1995 (approx. date) Inspired fundies re-name "creation science." Now it's "intelligent design." Stuff has been created, all right, but the creator is only "intelligent." Could be God, could be Bumba, could be some alien from the Crab Nebula. (We at "The Gods Are Bored" know it is Bumba.)

(Cue horror music) ID took a bashing at the Dover trial, where even a George W. Bush appointee to the federal bench couldn't find any scientific credibility in it. So the nasty little belief has morphed again.

First of all, if you have a copy of Of Pandas and People (you moron), hang onto it. The newest edition of this hardcover tract is called Design of Life. And "intelligent design" has been replaced by a newer, snappier word for your better class of moron: "sudden emergence."

A certain portion of our American population will not rest until American students are told in public school classrooms that stuff has suddenly emerged on this planet. Which is true, but if they're not giving credit to Bumba, they're not really being scientific.

Seriously, my friends, take notice of this. Hard-core, un-Christian Christianity has learned how to spin. Never mind that we'll raise generations of mini-morons. Science is bad anyway.

Do you think this "sudden emergence" stuff will sell in China? Me neither.

Back to Matthew Chapman. I wanted to send him an email telling him how much I enjoyed 40 Days. He's elusive. I guess I would be too, in his place. So, maybe he'll see this and feel good about a great book that offers a wake-up call to people who think this Creator Yahweh science is gonna just evaporate. (Evaporation is a theory, and a theory is not a fact. Remember that.)

One last "Gods Are Bored" extra on 40 Days. When we were researching our own book on the Scopes Monkey Trial, we learned that Charles Darwin had a host of illnesses that historians think might have been psychosomatic. It turns out that Matthew Chapman, by his own admission, is phobic about germs.

There's the old ancestor peeking through again.

Moral of this long sermon: Bumba created the universe, and He is very intelligent.

Beannachd leat,
THE MERLIN OF BERKELEY SPRINGS

My book's now available on Amazon for cheaper prices. It's called Defining Moments: The Scopes Monkey Trial.

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Monday, May 21, 2007

Shhhh!

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," where we're waiting for the Rapture to rupture! I'm your host, Anne Johnson. Yes, that's Anne with an "e." You might think you're Sherlock Holmes enough to figure out which of the 341,000 Anne Johnsons in American happens to be me. Forget it, honcho! There's another Anne Johnson right down the street! How will you know it's me and not her?

There's such security in being Anne Johnson. Cuz I think I'd really suck at making up a blog name.


This faerie is called "The Rebel." Look at him. He's either ticked to the max, or plotting, or both. Maybe he's got something up his sleeve. A secret he keeps to himself, or maybe only shares with other rebellious faeries.


There's been a great deal of talk lately in blogs I read about how Pagans should go public, indeed burst into political activity, in rebellion against the coming Christian oligarchy.


Look at "The Rebel" and think again.

We at "The Gods Are Bored" advocate surrounding our praise and worship activities with a cloak of mystery. Up to and including secret handshakes.

Some people don't like secrets. They like to be all out in the open with the herd, following some clueless leader.

Other people rebel. They start whispering with people who are rebellious as they are. Next thing you know, you've got the Freemasons, secrecy and safety in numbers.

Speaking of numbers, let's crunch some. First, your intelligent, environmentally-sensitive liberal family. Two kids, three max. Responsible and fully cognizant of global overpopulation.

Second, your uber-fundie family. Twelve kids. Forget the environment, the Rapture's on the way. In the meantime, we've bred to the point of majority rule. Let's burn some Pagans!

You think I'm kidding? Ask "The Rebel" above. He's a faerie. He can see the future.

There are two ways to handle this clear and present danger.

1. Make yourself a target now so they'll come for you, and then appeal to the reasonable masses for support as they lash you to the stake. Didn't work in the 17th century, won't work now.

2. Cloak yourself in a divine shield of penetrable secrecy, so that the rebellious among them come to join you.

I like to think of this as praise and worship of the Scarlet Pimpernel variety. If you don't know who the Scarlet Pimpernel is, ha ha! Shhhhh!

Beannacht leat,
THE MERLIN OF BERKELEY SPRINGS

"The Rebel," by Seitou

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Sunday, May 20, 2007

Surviving until We're Left Behind

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," practical advice on how to survive the coming American theocracy! We like to think of it as outrunning the Rapture.

This is the first of what will probably be a series of posts on how to apply the Appalachian model to Paganism in order to outlast another round of persecution. All of this is done with an immense hat tip to a scholar named Rodger Cunningham who wrote a book called Apples on the Flood: The Southern Mountain Experience.

First, here's what you can expect. In the American Theocracy, everyone who is not a Christian will be marginalized both economically and socially. The mainstream culture will adopt a paternalistic stance toward non-Christians, deeming them inferior in every respect. If possible, the Christian theocrats will designate fringe areas in which non-Christians will have to live, preferably along a border where these non-Christians will serve as a defensive buffer against hostile immigrants.

The non-Christians will accept these conditions, up to and including defending the periphery and acting like the inferior stereotype whenever the dominant culture is watching.

When the dominant culture isn't watching, the non-Christians, among themselves, will proudly tout their very ancient heritage and practice their chosen religions in extremely secretive ways. The isolation, economic hardship, and need for secrecy will cement this marginal culture together, give it backbone -- and a certain romantic aura that the dominant Christian culture will attempt (without success) to stifle.

All of this has happened to the Caucasian residents of Appalachia who descend from Lowland Scottish ancestors.

If you go back in time, even past the Celts, to very ancient Britain, Lowland Scotland was an urbane and prosperous place. It got run over again, and again, and again, and again. Somehow this group of people -- now called Scotch-Irish -- managed to maintain an identity separate from every culture that ran over it, even if the language changed.

Is it conceivable that a nation founded on secular principles could become a theocracy? Very.

Is it conceivable that people could be forcibly resettled and placed on reservations or in certain marginal geographical areas because they are "inferior" Pagans? Uh, Yup.

Is it conceivable that as a marginal culture the group will strengthen rather than weaken? Again, yes.

The moral of this sermon: Don't despair if the God police march you to a new hovel on the Rio Grande and call you an ignorant Pagan, now watch the border! It might look like you're some ignorant little insignificant wretch, but you know better.

Beannacht leat,
THE MERLIN OF BERKELEY SPRINGS
Cunningham, Rodger. Apples on the Flood: The Southern Mountain Experience. Knoxville, TN: University of Tennessee Press, 1987.

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Friday, May 18, 2007

There Goes The Neighborhood

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," mayhem on a halfshell! Our brand of lunacy won't give you hepatitis like those succulent oysters, so grab a chair!

Behind my house is another house. And beyond that house is a little nature area with a pond. I call it Dog Poop Park. The only reason it isn't slathered with townhomes is that it's too wet to build on. This is good news for the snapping turtles that use my yard as their nesting sites.

I've no objections to an occasional snapper visit. And -- have you noticed? -- there's no such thing as an ugly baby animal. The itty bitty snappers rushing across the short weeds ... err ... lawn, are so cute!

We have a new denizen in Dog Poop Park. Someone dumped an alligator into the pond. Actually it's probably a caiman, but whatever it is, it's not snapper-sized. It's a whopper.


The park is cordoned off with yellow police tape. Every other tree has a sign on it that says, "Stay Out of Park."

I figured there would be gators in the waterways around here at some point, given the direction the climate is heading. I think this guy is just an early land speculator.

In the wee small hours of the morning, my daughter The Heir heard a high-decibel fracas at the pond. It consisted of frantic goose honking, cut off quickly. Christmas must have come early for Caiman Cratchit.

There are more than enough resident Canadian geese around here to sustain the hungriest caiman through the summer. My concern is that Cratchit might get a little sick of Canadian goose and go cruising for a change of pace. Like a pussy cat.

I've got two rescue cats, Alpha and Beta. Both of them were outdoor cats when they accepted my hospitality. Beta, in fact, was dumped along the pond as a kitten.

Normally, Alpha and Beta don't stray far from my little back yard. (That's a plus of owning rescue cats -- they know when they've got it good.) But, if a snapping turtle can crawl to Chateau Johnson from the pond, it's certainly not beyond the crawling capacity of a rapacious caiman.

The park police are clueless as to how to catch the thing. That doesn't surprise me, because they're also clueless as to how to catch the teenagers who smoke weed, drink beer, and procreate by the pond. The park police even called the animal shelter where I volunteer, hoping the dog expert there would help them. The dog expert, who regularly has to collar savage pit bull mixes, politely declined to help. Not his area of expertise.

It's not mine either. Anyone out there know what to do about a pesky alligator infestation?

Beannachd leat,
THE MERLIN OF GATOR-FREE BERKELEY SPRINGS

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Thursday, May 17, 2007

The Great, Grand, Griffon Grab!


Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," practical buzzard worship for the new millennium! If you're not knee-deep in rotting carcasses, thank a vulture!


We're pleased to announce a fabulous contest, exclusive to "The Gods Are Bored!"


It's called The Great, Grand, Griffon Grab.


Here's how it works:


You know those quarters they've made, one for each state, with a little patriotic scene on the back depicting the best things about that state? Of course you do. Every time you find one from your home state you stuff it in your pocket to keep.


Did you know that the California quarters have a condor on them? Yessir, there, engraved in whatever it is they make quarters out of, is a soaring scavenging bird. One that's still teetering on the brink of extinction but has made enough of a comeback to warrant the coin honor.


So, here's how you enter the Great Griffon Grab:


1. Every time you get a California quarter, save it.

2. On December 31, 2006, take your accumulation of California quarters to the bank and cash them in for real money.


4. Tell me the amount you sent, via email. My email is in my Profile.

5. (You can just send them a hefty donation and pretend it was produced by saving quarters.)


Here's what the winner gets!


GREAT, GRAND, GRIFFON GRAB GOODIES!


1. One brand-new t-shirt from the East Coast Vulture Festival 2007, in the size you designate.

2. One brand-new turkey vulture stuffed animal (adorable).

3. One set of 6 vulture all-occasion cards (perfect for birthdays and sympathy).

4. One turkey vulture key-chain.

5. One East Coat Vulture Festival kerchief.


Wow! That's a first-class buzzard package if ever I saw one!


So, get busy saving those quarters, and you'll help save the Cape Griffon Vulture!


I'll be posting this from time to time to remind you. Tell all your friends! The more the merrier!


Kayak Dave has already entered. He's setting a fast pace. Good luck!

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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

A Not Very Inventive Invention


Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," all you dear prudent Pagans! Won't you come out to play? The sun is up, the sky is blue ... it's beautiful, and so are you!


We at "The Gods Are Bored" occasionally turn this space over to some other commentator, just for a little change of pace. On this, the day of Jerry Falwell's passing, we invite commentary from Mark Twain.


You have to ask yourself which man you'd want to see every day forever.


From the Twain diaries, his opinion on Heaven:


Isn't it curious? Isn't it interesting? You must not think I am exaggerating, for it is not so. I will give you the details.

Most, men do not sing, most men cannot sing, most men will not stay where others are singing if it be continued more than two hours. Note that.

Only about two men in a hundred can play upon a musical instrument, and not four in a hundred have any wish to learn how. Set that down.
Many men pray, not many of them like to do it. A few pray long, the others make a short-cut.

More men go to church than want to.

To forty-nine men in fifty the Sabbath day is a dreary, dreary bore.

Further, all sane people detest noise.

All people, sane or insane, like to have variety in their lives. Monotony quickly wearies them.

Now then, you have the facts. You know what men don't enjoy. Well, they have invented a heaven, out of their own heads, all by themselves; guess what it is like? In fifteen hundred years you couldn't do it. They have left out the very things they care for most their dearest pleasures--and replaced them with prayer!

In man's heaven everybody sings. There are no exceptions. The man who did not sing on earth sings there; the man who could not sing on earth sings there. Thus universal singing is not casual, not occasional, not relieved by intervals of quiet; it goes on all day long and every day during a stretch of twelve hours. And everybody stays where on earth the place would be empty in two hours. The singing is of hymns alone. Nay, it is one hymn alone. The words are always the same in number--they are only about a dozen--there is no rhyme--there is no poetry. "Hosanna, hosanna, hosanna unto the highest!" and a few such phrases constitute the whole service.

Meantime, every person is playing on a harp! Consider the deafening hurricane of sound. Consider, further, it is a praise service--a service of compliment, flattery, adulation. Do you ask who it is that is willing to endure this strange compliment, this insane compliment, and who not only endures it but likes it, enjoys it, requires it, commands it? Hold your breath: It is God! This race's God I mean--their own pet invention.


God, please welcome your servant, Jerry Falwell. Is his harp in tune?

Monday, May 14, 2007

In Nausea We Trust

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," writing with complete seriousness once every 365 days!

Today is that day.

The World Wide Web is aptly named. Just like a spider's web, it can trip you up.

As a parent and as a schoolteacher, I constantly harp at teenagers to be careful what they post on the World Wide Web.

You don't know who's gonna read it. Or what use they're gonna put it to.

This past week, Jesus' General, a big player in the blogosphere, ran two posts about a woman named Leah Kelley.

Leah has her very own web site. It's much more than a blog. It's as extensive as any author's. Her site is called Christian Domestic Discipline.

Leah is an advocate of husbands spanking wives with spatulas and other objects as a part of maintaining "Christian discipline" in a household. She has sample chapters of erotica based on this concept, a blog in which she discusses her own domestic discipline regimen, and books for sale on this topic, both fiction and nonfiction.

We at "The Gods Are Bored" respect Leah Kelley's Constitutional right to free speech. However, before we issue a hearty, "You go, girl!" to this vile creature, we have one question.

Suppose some Christian male spouse reads this stuff, gets off on it, and applies it to his wife with a -- shall we say -- heavy hand? Leah Kelley, are you ready for your arrival at the Pearly Gates? Suppose you're greeted by some fellow Christian ladies who got spanked to death after their hubbies read Christian Domestic Discipline?

We at "The Gods Are Bored" can't speak for Yahweh, but by damn, Queen Brigid the Bright would not have any parts of that. Which makes us prouder than ever to be Pagan.

Alliterative as it is, you'll not find a web site called Druidic Domestic Discipline.

Bringing us full circle, I'll conclude by giving Leah Kelley the same advice I give my daughters and my students, even though Leah Kelley is presumably a grown woman.

Be careful what you post on the World Wide Web. You don't know who will see it.

What I saw at Christian Domestic Discipline was possibly the most nauseating content I've ever seen on the World Wide Web. And I'm no prude, far from it. What people do in the privacy of their homes is not my business, unless they put it on the Web and advocate it as a lifestyle.

Now it is with great pleasure that I turn the warped writings of Leah Kelley over to my more widely-read Goddess sisters in the blogosphere for their perusal and analysis. Have at her, ladies, because you never know who's going to see what you write on the World Wide Web.

The wife you save may be your own.

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Saturday, May 12, 2007

Zoroaster Explains Everything

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," official sponsor of the National Day of Maypole! Pish tosh on that so-called "ecumenical" National Day of Prayer! We don't hear any Parsis or Rastafarians offering prayers at those things. So, until true ecumenicalism (? is that a word?) is established in America, we of this site will fly around with bright ribbons in our hands.

Today we at "The Gods Are Bored" are pleased to welcome the ancient prophet Zoroaster to our studio. Unlike most of the bored gods and goddesses we interview, Zoroaster still has a praise and worship team. He comes to us deeply troubled today. Please give a great big "Gods Are Bored" welcome to Zoroaster, sacred prophet of the Parsi peoples!

Anne: Zoroaster, you've been rather vilified by the philosopher Nietzsche, who more or less put the words "God Is Dead" in your mouth.

Zoroaster: I was the victim of a misquote. In fact I know God. All of us deities more or less know each other, though we're careful never to talk about religion when we get together at barbecues. God's not dead. He's multi-tasking out the wazoo, that's all. But the shareholders are happy with his performance, so there's no possibility of a hostile takeover or anything like that.

Anne: Zoroaster, in your opinion as an ancient prophet, what creature represents the pinnacle of evolution?

Zoroaster: The vulture. Top of the food chain. Nature's purifier. My praise and worship team comes to me by allowing their decomposing flesh to be consumed by vultures.

Anne: Which puts you pretty high in my estimation, Z, let me tell you. Now, honored prophet, please tell the "Gods Are Bored" audience what has happened in India and Pakistan in the last 10 years.

Zoroaster: Ninety percent of the vulture population has died in a massive extinction event. Some estimates are as high as 30 million birds. Scientists have found the culprit that killed the vultures: a steroid-like veterinary medication called diclofenac.

Anne: Yes. I've just been reading about this in the February, 2007 issue of Smithsonian Magazine. Apparently, even though only about 10 percent of the animals that have died in India and Pakistan had diclofenac in their systems, that was enough to stop 30 million healthy vultures in their tracks.

Zoroaster: The people of India and Pakistan might not agree about much else, but they never would have used this anti-inflammatory in their livestock if they'd known it would kill all the vultures.

Anne: Because ...

Zoroaster: Because in the vultures' place, wild dogs have been bingeing on carcasses, breeding, spreading rabies. Anthrax is spreading, because vultures don't get sick if they eat Anthrax-killed animals, but they're not there to clean up. And my praise and worship team members ...

Anne: Lie rotting on top of your temples, unvisited by vultures. Z, I understand that India and Pakistan have banned the use of diclofenac, but it might be too late for the larger Gyp genera of Old World vultures.

Zoroaster: Some people might say, "Who cares about vultures, anyway?" Well, people who are stricken with rabies might be just a little bit miffed to know they could have been saved by a buzzard.

Anne: Especially since rabies is 100 percent fatal if not caught in time, and a nasty death to boot. But really, Z. People dying of rabies in the 21st century?

Zoroaster: Your magazine says there were 30,000 human cases in India in one year.

Anne: Nature abhors rot. All that noxious bacteria, all that contamination. Vultures clean up the rotten world. Without them...

Zoroaster: Without them, you'll see just how important Homo sapiens is in the great, grand scheme of things.

Anne: Don't get me started. Well, Zoroaster, now I'm as blue as you are. No one loves buzzards more than I do. A documented report of a cataclysmic buzzard kill-off can turn a bright May day into an abyss of gloom.

Zoroaster: Now, Annie, don't fall into the trap of your fellow Homo sapiens, thinking that all evolution has ground to a halt with your species at the pinnacle. There will always be a place in the evolutionary process for scavenging birds. They are remarkably intelligent and resourceful.

Anne: You know what I saw just now, Z? Over by the strip shopping center, across the street from Staples, there's a nest of turkey vultures on top of the Subaru corporate center!

Zoroaster: Do you think they'd allow Parsi funerals on the roof of the Subaru corporate center?

Anne: I doubt it. But let's walk over and visit with the vultures. I'm serious. We can walk there from here. Might lift my spirits a little.


Zoroaster: That sounds like fun. But aren't you the person I've been hearing about who has 1,283 snapshots of the La Brea Tar Pit fossil vultures? I can't tell you how much I'd like to see those.


Anne: You're the first one who's ever asked -- human or otherwise. Here they are, right at my fingertips!


Excuse me, audience, but how often do you find anyone who wants to look at your vacation photos?

The moral of this dialogue: Vultures are superior to humans. Awk Awk.

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Thursday, May 10, 2007

WHAT? Support a Missionary? ME?

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," now scoring a trifecta! Three posts in less than 24 hours! That's a flea market deal, you'd better scoop it up.

This amazingly beautiful creature is the Cape Griffon Vulture. It lives in Namibia. There are only 11 individuals left.




Yes. (Anne wipes copious tears.) A vulture on the brink of extinction. One thinks immediately of the way statues of Zeus and Venus were desecrated by early Christians.


Okay, so it's not a glam animal like the polar bear or the Arctic wolf. It's a buzzard. Can't Namibia get along without this particular species of buzzard?


We at "The Gods Are Bored" say that the Cape Griffon Vulture must be saved.


Fortunately, we have recently become acquainted with a vibrant young missionary, Lyndsey Stafford, who plans to spend at least a year in Namibia on a project designed to help the remaining Cape Griffon Vultures survive while raising public awareness of the dangers facing this magnificent creature.


There are no primates we've dissed more on this site than missionaries. But this young lady is a missionary we want to support. She believes this species of vulture can be saved.


Ah, belief in salvation! Finally we can endorse it!


Alas and alack, Lyndsey, we at "The Gods Are Bored" have only a handful of readers. We suspect that many of them are struggling as we are just to keep the roof patched and the "sheriff's sale" sign off the lawn.


However, we pledge to you what support we can. We at "The Gods Are Bored" will chart your progress as you fight for a Sacred Thunderbird. And we'll encourage our three readers with disposable income to make a donation to save the Cape Griffon Vulture!!!!

Hard as it is for us to believe here at TGAB, we actually have a highly intelligent and recommended reader in South Africa who might be able to mobilize some support there.


If you're in love with polar bears and wolves, can't you find it in your heart to love Cape Griffon Vultures as well? If so, dig into that trust fund (or change purse, it really doesn't matter) and send some moo-la-la to an extremely worthy cause.



The cause is REST AFRICA. Stands for Rare and Endangered Species Trust.


Now close your eyes and imagine that there really is only one God, and it is the Sacred Thunderbird. How are you disposed toward this deity? Are you going to wind up on that Big Savannah in the Sky, only to be judged by the Sacred Thunderbird and found wanting? Run scared, you who are indifferent to vultures! Here's your only chance for salvation! Are you really going to turn your back on the saving grace of the Sacred Thunderbird?

We want everyone on their knees. We want everyone to pray: "Oh, Sacred Thunderbird, we have fallen short! We want to do better! Sacred Thunderbird, we pledge our hearts, minds, and pocketbooks to your salvation! Awk Awk!"


(We at "The Gods Are Bored" know how to make the hard sale.)


Beannachd leat from
THE MERLIN OF BERKELEY SPRINGS

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Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Fairy Camp







Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored" on a rare day when we're double-posting! You get two lively commentaries for the price of one! It's our spring clearance sale.

Awhile back, we at "The Gods Are Bored" reviewed the documentary film Jesus Camp. The film portrays young children being stressed to tears as they contemplate their sins and dedicate their lives to Jesus. The tots were also encouraged to love George W. Bush, to hate abortion, and to go out into the world and sow the seeds of their beliefs where nothing but weeds are growing right now.

Must say we were shaken by this film and its implications. But soft, o reader! In some places the hardcore Jesus seeds may fall on shifting sands!

Welcome to Fairy Camp 2007! No documentary filmmaking here, just lots and lots of tots playing with bubbles and talking to dragons and searching for gnomes and faeries in verdant fields and by shady brooks! And the tots are dressed in their favorite fantasy clothes, and lo and behold -- adults are dressed up too!

In the midst of this joyous mayhem, the tots may hear a snippet of message, either from the bards, or from the drums, or from their parents.

The message:

1. You, little tot, are not full of sin. You're an innocent out playing on a sunny day. The bored gods loved you from birth ... unconditionally, like your parents.

2. Treasure the Earth. It's your future responsibility not to dominate the planet, but to respect it and feel its goodness in the soles of your feet.

3. It is good when people are different. If everyone was the same, some people wouldn't be happy. "Diversity" is a big word for a tot, but, okay, just treat other people nice. Like you would want to be treated. Very simple concept. Transcends boundaries.

So, with no further fuss and feathers, here are some snippets of Fairy Camp. Kubiando!






Teach your children well.
With love from
THE MERLIN OF BERKELEY SPRINGS

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The Morons Next Door

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," where our neighbors are really stupid terrorists when they aren't delivering pizza.

Seriously, the suburb next door made the news. Even the New York Times and BBC World News Tonight!

If you haven't heard about this, here's the scoop. Buncha would-be jihadists decide to go on a shooting spree at Ft. Dix, maybe mow down some Marines or something. They practice their aim at paintball sessions in the Pocono Mountains, taking care to film themselves shouting jihadist slogans, praising Osama Bin Laden (whoever he is), and otherwise behaving in a belligerent manner.

Then they take the video camera to Best Buy to get a print made.

The word "moron" seems way too tepid. If your plan to glorify Allah is thwarted by a clerk at Best Buy, chances are Allah doesn't want you, chump.

FROM ANNE
NEVER PROUDER TO BE NOT FROM NEW JERSEY

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Monday, May 07, 2007

The Restless Earth

We at "The Gods Are Bored" send prayers of condolence to all victims of violent weather. A tornado is a terrible thing to face.

Fairy Festival at Spoutwood Farm; or, Once a Hillbilly, Always a Hillbilly







Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," basking in the aftermath of Fairie Festival at Spoutwood Farm 2007!



There's nothing like a faerie festival to restore your faith in the future of America. Or to restore your faith in general. Big ol' outdoor rituals to the Four Quarters, wow! Can I get a Kubiando? Yeah!

Okay, this blog is read equally by Appalachians and Pagans, probably followed closely by card-carrying members of the Daughters of the American Revolution. (Trust me, I get comments from the latter!)


Sorry, no D.A.R. in this post.


What happens when you grow up in the mountains, and it's May, and you wake up, and the wind is blowing all git-out, hell and gone like a freight train? Well, you dress for the weather. Reluctantly you stash your gooey fairy gown, replacing it with a thick woolen sweater, blue jeans, and ugly walking shoes. Cuz it's gonna be cold out there, right?


You persuade one daughter (The Heir) to dress for the weather too. You bully the other one (The Spare) until she throws a tantrum and compromises by wearing jeans under her fairy garb and bringing a fleece blanket.


Who turns out to be the smart one? The Spare.


Spoutwood Farm is not in the mountains. Sunday turned out to be quite comfortable indeed. However, on Sunday around noon a few Fairie Festival attendees were injured when a branch broke and fell on them. We at "The Gods Are Bored" wish those folks a speedy recovery.


The rest of us had one whopper of a romp. Cuz hillbillies know how to dress for the weather. Layer after layer of warm stuff got shed from the corpus of Anne, Heir, and Spare. And somehow Anne found herself in the same plain blouse she wore last year!


Now the remainder of this post is for you gal readers out there. I put Princess the faerie in charge of the camera and let 'er rip.


Yowsa!









Princess thought this dude might be a wizard.










Princess knows other princesses when she sees them.










Group hug.






More tomorrow from
THE MERLIN OF BERKELEY SPRINGS

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Saturday, May 05, 2007

How Does Your Garden Grow?

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" That annoying sound you hear is Anne gnashing her teeth. It's a two-day weekend, amigos, and of the two days, Cinqo de Mayo looks like the best one for the Fairie Festival at Spoutwood Farm.

Today's weather forecast is ... well ... dead-on perfect. Sunday's -- gusty wind and a high of 60 -- sounds like it'll scare all the faeries away.

Oh well, la di dah. Toujours gai, and all that.

Are you a great gardener? Hey, so am I!

I finally learned the secret to a beautiful, verdant garden. Now, absolutely free of charge, I'm going to share it with you. It's your lucky day!

A Mennonite farmer, now passed into the arms of Jesus, once told me: "You know what a weed is? It's a plant that's growing where you don't want it to grow."

That's right. Rule that garden with an iron fist. Get a touchy little impatiens, sow it where it will parch without a daily drenching, wait until September, and it might look nice for a week or two before the frost kills it.

BAMP! Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

We now introduce to you:

LITTLE ANNIE SUNSHINE'S WEED-FREE GARDEN!

Step One: Re-define every plant in your yard so that none of them are weeds.

Whatever happens to be growing where it is growing, when it is growing, and how it is growing, is what is meant to be. It's not a weed. You like having it there.

(Sole exception, poison ivy.)

You must be thinking to yourself, wow. That woman's garden must be hideous!

We're now into Year Three of Annie Sunshine's new philosophy of gardening. And yes, the yard has been re-taken by growing things that are native to New Jersey.

Guess what, muchachas? If you let weeds grow, they bloom!

I've got two lil' old thingies out by the front door that are all green and likely-looking, except I didn't plant them. They just came up. I think they're going to be black-eyed susans. Dunno. But I want them there, they aren't weeds!

My biggest success is my poppers. This time of year they appear as a charming green ground cover. They grow to about 5 feet in height by September, at which time they provide a stunning privacy screen for the whole backyard. Then, just as all those expensive annuals are withering (in other peoples' yards), my poppers burst into bloom with dear little orange, snapdragon-like flowers. When the flowers turn into seed pods, you pinch them between your fingers and they pop in an adorable, birthday-party kinda way.
EXHIBIT A: LUSCIOUS CROP OF POPPERS

I wish thistles and ragged robins grew around here. Ever seen a thistle in bloom? Who the hell thought up making that a weed?

You know what's the best part of Annie's foolproof gardening method? You don't have to lift a finger or invest a dime, and bueno! Green, green everywhere!

The moral of this sermon: Your garden isn't full of weeds. It's an equal opportunity growing place.
BEANNACHD LEAT,
THE MERLIN OF BERKELEY SPRINGS

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Thursday, May 03, 2007

My New Church Is a Laundromat


Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," missionaries for them Old Time Religions! We know quite a number of pantheons that have jars of jam older than Genesis, so if you're looking for spiritual uplift, please take a number and be seated. Someone will be with you shortly!

A few months ago, we at "The Gods Are Bored" received a water bill of about $400. After Mr. Johnson revived from his swoon, he called the water department. They said we'd used 30,000 gallons of H2O in a quarter of a year.


The folks at the water department said this wasn't terribly unusual, especially if we had a sprinkler system in our yard. Which we will never have, even if global warming turns New Jersey into Nevada.

Follow-up on this: Our water meter is broken, and it'll take a plumber to fix it. Our last water bill was $15, so we're holding off on the plumber.

Still, the spectre of 30,000 gallons of life-giving fluid flowing through Chateau Johnson in just three months sent me scurrying for a solution to the supersized sluicing.

Voila! I've discovered a Holy Temple par excellence! It's the laundromat.

I should write a whole book, Zen and the Art of Fabric Softener.

Okay. The first time I lugged 10 days worth of laundry to the laundromat, I duly took along a novel. Have you ever tried to read with kids running around, and people talking, and a television right above you showing a Spanish-language soap opera? Uh huh.

Lesson learned. Now I leave the reading matter at home. I shove the 10-day mass of laundry into the extra large washer. (Six loads - think of the savings in H2O!) Then I sit there and watch all the familiar stuff churning and turning in the bubbly silver drum. It's hypnotic. After ten minutes you feel like you've had a spliff. You almost regret that final spin cycle.

Then all the stuff goes into those huge wall-mounted dryers. Whoa. If the washer's a spliff, those things are shrooms! Ten minutes into the drying cycle, you're flying around the bay with Timothy Leary.

So much for the Zen (or I guess Jerry Garcia) part. Now we get to the philosophical benefits of the laundromat sans novel or newspaper.

Instead of the little kids being bothersome, you flirt with them. They're bored as hell and glad for the attention. Have you ever seen a little kid that wasn't cute as a button? Me neither. Especially when there's a mom there to cart the tot away, and it's not me.

Then you look at the mountains of clothing dancing in the dryer, and you think, "Gosh, people need me. There's Mr. Johnson's skivvies, the sexy devil. A stylish top belonging to The Spare. The doggone perennial Les Claypool t-shirt that's otherwise melded to The Heir's back. The Heir's favorite Mr. Peanut pajamas. Maroon and gray shirts to wear to the Vo-Tech when I teach. More maroon. More gray. I spend a lot of time at the Vo-Tech. Not complaining, either. They need me there too.

Now the towels are just a tad moist. Ten more minutes. That's when you either start praying to the bored gods for peace throughout all the earth, or else you get to thinking.

I do some great thinking at the laundromat. Yesterday I was able to justify wearing my posh Colonial-era gooey gown to the Fairie Festival at Spoutwood Farm, just a few glorious days hence.

Whoa, I thought. I can be The Fairy Godmother, just scratch the God part. God's a dude, and I'm a gal, so "Godmother" is an oxymoron. So, this weekend look for me as The Fairy Mother of Spoutwood, doling out granted wishes and strewing good will on cheery faeries of all sorts.

Trust me, I'd never thought of a benign fairy character for that Colonial gown if I hadn't gone to the Super Suds.

The moral of this sermon is: We're all multi-tasking these days. Why not worship at the laundromat?

BEANNACHD LEAT
THE MERLIN OF BERKELEY SPRINGS

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Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Shall The People Rule? Or, Why Democracy Doesn't Work


Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," where we recognize that the government is of the rich, by the rich, and for the rich.

Two things inveigh againstAmerican democracy: our chief executive and majority rule.

In 1925, the majority of citizens in Tennessee decided they did not want to have evolution taught as part of the biology curriculum in their high schools. More specifically, they didn't want teachers to introduce any information that contradicted the story of creation from the Book of Genesis.

The statute that made this law was called the Butler Act. It was on the Tennessee books until 1967. Right through the Cold War and the space race. In fact, Louisiana had a similar law until 1987, when it was struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court. (On the grounds that such a law violates Annie's favorite, the Establishment Clause.)

Majority rule. Ah, when to say when?

Yesterday George W. Bush vetoed a bill that would have set guidelines for a withdrawal from Iraq. The majority of Americans (if you trust the polls, a big majority) would like to see this costly, pointless exercise come to an end. Are we to conclude from this that our president does not heed the wishes of the majority of Americans?

Absolutely. And why should he care? Just like every president in history, he wasn't elected democratically. (One wonders just exactly how he was elected...) In the case of the chief executive, the people do not rule.

Okay, let's say, for the sake of argument, that the state of Kansas decides to make all abortions illegal. This would require proof that a majority of citizens in Kansas oppose abortion. Then let's say a Supreme Court stacked to the plimsol line with Republican-appointed judges agrees with Kansas and says, "let the people of each state rule on their public health issues."

Shall the people rule?

William Jennings Bryan spoke for majority rule in The State of Tennessee v. John Thomas Scopes, 1925. I quote:

"The question is can a minority in this state come in and compel a teacher to to teach that the Bible is not true and make the parents of these children pay the expenses of the teacher to tell their children that what these people believe is false and dangerous?"

We at "The Gods are Bored" are fairly certain that the eloquent Mr. Bryan, if he still lived, would be a powerful opponent of abortion. But this same Mr. Bryan was a powerful and eloquent proponent of organized labor and women's sufferage.

Shall the people rule?

H.L. Mencken thought that most Americans were too stupid to choose their legislators wisely. Mencken advocated a non-hereditary pseudo-monarchy in which governance would be handed over to people who could prove they had high IQs and cartloads of higher education.

Must admit that rules out our current commander in chief.

We at "The Gods Are Bored," being steeped to the gills in Scots-Irish DNA, do not trust any government at all. If we were pushed into a corner, we would advocate not the benevolent dictatorship of H.L. Mencken, but rather a benevolent association of small tribal units, perhaps no bigger in size than a single Zip code, in which the majority (stupid or otherwise) could rule with a great deal of self-oversight.

Heck, majority rule doesn't even work on the battlefield. Just read up on Stonewall Jackson -- or William Wallace.

BEANNACHD LEAT
THE MERLIN OF BERKELEY SPRINGS


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